We landed in Zambia from Malawi on 12th August 2018 through the Songwe border.
Country No. 6
12th – 19th August, 2018 (Day 41 – 48)
If it’s not called Mosi-oa-Tunya in Zambia, it is called Mosi-oa-Tunya 😉 😉 Just remember that.
We like to always highlight this as it is very important information for all the travelers. You will note our blogs will always start with the border experience. In Malawi we paid for road access fee. In Zambia we paid for Tar Levy of Zambia Kwacha 70/- (Kshs 700/-) per bike. Please don’t ask us what is the difference in road levy and Tar levy, we too don’t know but you have to pay it anyway. Whether you understand it or not. Since we had the carnet and the COMESA insurance, that was all we had to pay. The process was first and efficient.
NOW IN ZAMBIA
We left the border for our first stop over for the night at Petauke. Having come from Lilongwe on the same day, our mileage for the day was 322 kms. We had looked at the map and thought the best place to sleep was Petauke, not because we wished to cover that kind of mileage but because we thought Chipata may be a very small center and might not have accommodation. Its very near the border as well which could have given us the impression as other centers close to the border have been small and without accommodation. To our surprise, Chipata is a well established town with street lights, malls, petrol stations and you can find very good accommodation. If you leave Lilongwe and cross the border late, you should not worry about driving/riding far to find accommodation. It’s only 107 kms from the border and good tarmac road all the way. We however had enough time to get to Petauke and therefore did not spend any time at Chipata.
Our way of finding accommodation is either by using iOverlander, asking from the locals or using referrals from other travelers we meet as we travel. We have been so fortunate not to end up sleeping by the road side because we did not make bookings in advance. Something we don’t do. Once we arrive at our destination for the day, the first thing we do is top up fuel for the bikes and if we need help with the accommodation, we always ask the people at the petrol station. So we did that at the petrol station at Petauke and they all pointed to a lodge right opposite the station. We were tired and just rode in to the lodge called Chimwemwe lodge. We got ourselves a cottage as they did not have camping option. It’s a very touristic lodge just by the main highway. We are so used to our tent and being in a place that is social. That is why we love backpackers and camp sites. Everyone talks to everyone. This turned out to be our movie night. Thanks to the TV in the cottage.
it took us two days from Lilongwe to Lusaka. From Petauke to Lusaka it is 403 kms. One thing to note is that the roads are really good. From the border, for the first time we had a road without pot holes, bumps or cops. In all the other countries, we had at least 2 out of the 3 on each road. It is also a very long stretch with nothing much to see only big farms and good vegetation. Zambia is very green. We however enjoyed driving through the Lower Zambezi National Park and crossing a very beautiful bridge with an amazing view of river Luanga.
We arrived in Lusaka and we had already picked our new home from iOverlanders as the Lusaka Backpackers. We went in and got our beds in the dorm. We always take a decker. It’s fun whispering to each other like we used to do in high school. I know, you are wondering how a couple sleeps in a dormitory. Our best experiences have been in the dormitories. We love them. They are also very pocket friendly but the best of all is making friends. Our dormitory had 5 beds. This one had no deckers though so we were all on the same level. We were three of us in the dorm and did not meet the third dorm-mate Bahar till later in the evening. She is from Turkey and was traveling solo. We would end up having dinner and drinks together and became travel buddies for the next couple of places.
THINGS TO DO IN LUSAKA
We had a day to spend in Lusaka and all three of us spent it together. We avoid the very touristic activities as they cost more. For example, you can pay a guide to take you for the Lusaka town tour which will include the museum and the Kabwata cultural village for USD 30. A friend from Lusaka organized transport to take us around Lusaka town. After some errands at the Levy Mall and one of the best salads we have had since we left home from Living Healthy outlet, we left for the Museum and Kabwata cultural Village.
Entrance fee – Zk-50/- per person for none residents. (Kshs 500/-)
No pictures allowed inside the museum. The museum covers the history and culture of Zambia. It has emphasis on the colonization and independence history of Zambia. Opened in 1996, it has a modern layout.
THE KABWATA CULTUAL VILLAGE.
If you have been to Maasai market in Kenya, then, the Kabwata cultural village is similar to Maasai market. The only difference is that, it is set up as a village. It was a nice experience being here as they have items that we don’t have in the Maasai market but largely the paintings, carvings and some accessories were similar. They have the gemstones and old money (Zambia and Zimbabwean) which were quite interesting to see. You can also buy it there.
OFF TO LIVING-STONE.
We left in the morning. Bahar took the bus because we could not fit her suit-case on the bike, otherwise we really wanted her to seat at the back of one of us (perfect pillion). She had told us how she has never thought she could ride a motorcycle but the more we talked, the more we felt she is going to get one some day. Destination, Livingstone. We were all looking forward to the Vic Falls experience. We arrived at Jollyboys backpackers and booked our space in the dormitory. We found Christine and Virginia in the dorm and our traveling family had two more members. The dormitories here are very well designed. Each bed comes with personalized amenities such as own light, own charging point, own locker and the design gives you the comfort of some privacy in your own little space. Here we were also meeting Chris and David who we have been traveling together from Malawi. It was going to be a big happy reunion.
As soon as we all linked up and were now happy to be together again, we spent a really amazing evening together. We were to part ways again the following day as Chris and David were leaving to later link up in the next countries but not without helping them make a tough decision on their next move in their adventure. Their transport out of Zambia was complicated and was going to affect a part of their travel. After a tough deliberation, they sort our help in making the decision. This was made by tossing a coin which Dos would be in-charge of. Turned out to be the best way to make a difficult decision. After hugging each other and Chris and David leaving, the three of us sat by the pool side.
We heard the roaring sound of a bike and like little kids, we ran to just see. There was a cute yellow BMW 1150 and a very knackered gentleman. We said hello and welcomed him. Chuchi joined our amazing traveling family and the four of us would spend the day at the Vic Falls the following day. He even named Bahar “Chingololo” (her Africa name now) and got us gifts.
We have met and made friends with the most amazing people in this world. We have been blessed.
We spent the rest of the day talking and sharing our travel experiences, advices and any information that would be helpful to each other on our different adventures. Chuchi was really helpful with the roads in Botswana and what to expect. The border crossing and planing as he has traveled this route several times on his motorbike. The best advice was on how to handle the world animals which occasionally cross the road randomly and more especially the elephants. That was really helpful.
THE REAL MOSI-OA-TUNYA (The smoke which Thunders)
If you are still wondering what “the real Mosi-oa-Tunya” is, don’t worry any more. This name means “The smoke which Thunders” and refers to the Victoria Falls.
You can view Vic Falls from Zambia and Zimbabwe as well. However, we preferred the Zimbabwean side. It was more epic. You can walk across the border to each country and view the Vic Falls. If you need visas to both countries, you need to factor in the cost of visas as you have to pay it with each entry. However, you can get a multiple entry in to Zambia and only pay extra for Zimbabwe if you would like to view the falls from both countries which is possible in a day. For countries that don’t need visa into the two countries, you only need to pay for entrance fee.
Kenyans – No visa required in to Zambia and Zimbabwe
Zambia entrance fee – USD 25 P.P
Zimbabwe entrance fee – USD 30 P.P
If doing both countries, give yourself the whole day and a walking distance of about 14 kms in total. If doing only one side, give yourself about 3 hours. You may need to hire a rain coat at the gate if you are afraid of getting wet. We did not, we loved the showers of Mosi-oa-tunya. Have proper and comfortable shoes for walking otherwise you end up with your legs in the cold pool in a cold night like Wamuyu. Carry some drinking water, there are coffee shops and restaurants for a meal on your way out but you can pack your own lunch. We packed our own lunch and had a picnic lunch in there which was really lovely. They have places you can eat with nice benches and dustbins.
If you stay at Jollyboys like us, you get free transport to the Vic Falls and only need to get transport back to the backpackers. Taking a taxi by yourself will cost you Zk 60 but if you take a shared taxi, you pay Zk 10 and get dropped at the museum which is right across the road and walk to the backpackers.
There many shops and vendors where you can buy souvenirs at the Vic Falls. There is even a small shop inside the park where you can buy water and snacks. There are very clean toilets and will only cost you Zk 2 to use, which ticket is for multiple use. The entire place is really well organized and worth every penny you spend.
Just don’t forget to go through the immigration. Get your stamp please.
We extended our stay in Livingstone with another day and the best decision ever as we linked up with Frank again who we had met in Senga Bay Malawi.
See you in Botswana.